Finland and Uganda are the world’s fittest countries — here’s what they do to stay in shape


Mireya Acierto

Some of the world’s fittest people have homes on the Equator, while others chill in “Santa Claus Village” near the North Pole.

The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the fitness levels of people in 168 countries from 2001 to 2016, and one made it to the top: Uganda. Among rich Western countries — where people’s jobs often require less moving around and lifting — Finland was the leader.

Being the most in shape doesn’t always mean you’re the healthiest overall: Uganda doesn’t even make the top 50 countries in Bloomberg’s 2019 global health rankings, which compares countries based on factors like life expectancy and obesity rates, along with environmental considerations like access to clean water and sanitation.

Here’s what people in both Finland and Uganda do better than the rest of us, when it comes to fitness.

Uganda boasts the world’s fittest population.

Michele Sibiloni/AFP/Getty Images

For many Ugandans, staying active is considered a key to healthy living.

“If you go to the hospital when you’re sick, what do they say? Go for a walk, a run, or a swim,” Agnes Baluka Masajja, a Ugandan advocate for women’s empowerment through sports, told the Global Sports Mentoring Program. “You need to take care of your physical body.”

Boxing, cricket, and soccer are all popular sports in Uganda.

Michele Sibiloni/AFP/Getty Images

Uganda’s male-dominated boxing landscape can be distressing for women competitors, though.

“It’s very frustrating to train with men, wake up early to run hills, come in at the right weight, only for a fight day to come and there are no women to fight against,” boxer Hellen Baleke told Reuters. Continue reading…

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